How to Use Qunar -Buying Tickets Like a Local

Article by Chenchen and Matt Green

Good day! My name is Chen and I’m here to help you avoid overpaying for your flights. The most used apps by non-natives have become more and more expensive and have removed the English version (at least they had last time I checked). So buying online has gotten harder and harder for those who haven’t got the experience with Chinese travel apps- namely Qunar – the go to app for tickets most locals. This step-by-step guide is here to help you get used to using Qunar and hopefully understand how other similar apps work too.

  1. The home screen

Here we have many options and are well labelled with icons. However, the English labels have been shown on the screenshot. There are options for hotels and can select ‘foreign guests accepted’ as shown in the second diagram but the point of this guide is for flights. So let’s click through on flights.

2. Flights menu

The next screen we’re presented with is the single flight tab so we need to switch to the return flight tab which is in the middle. For the sake of safety, we’re going to ignore the international stopovers. The searching for cities is actually very easy and you don’t need to translate, as the app can recognize Pinyin. So, for this example, I have chosen Xian (no need for Xi’an even) to Sanya and two randomly set dates. Here you can change class, which is economy by default, and request children and baby tickets as well, which will automatically add fields to the next form. Dates are selected by a simple calendar and won’t include the price suggestion until you chose your return flight date

3. Selecting specific flights

At the top of this screen, there is the option to move your holiday back or forward by a few days and will keep the length the same – if you want to reduce or increase your holiday time then you’ll have to open the calendar again with the little icon. In the current version, you can choose your outgoing flight, which will calculate as the base and then add on the return flight as extra if you don’t wish to take the suggested one.

4. Almost there

Once you click that big orange button at the bottom, you’ll be asked your details. The long picture is what you’re presented with at first and as a foreign friend you’ll need to tap on the black writing of ID number (身份证) and change it to passport (护照) which will change that area to the last smaller picture and fill in the details there. If you want to add another person, just press the add button under the personal details and keep going. The final page is payment and you’re away.

That’s the basic explanation now for some super tips and tricks.

  1. If you buy often use the ‘Store ID cards’ function- it’s simple to use and you can just take a picture of your passports and all details will be saved on your profile bringing you closer to the one click buying experience.
  2. If you aren’t in a rush, you can always wait for that perfect deal or search what’s on offer now. The little green icon on the first page of the flights search allows you to see what offers are coming up- you can limit these to anything in the next week up to the next year. The yellow bell allows you to set notifications via text of your interested location and a maximum price you set so they won’t come in all willy nilly.
  3. Just as in the West, buying early or at the last minute will get you a good deal most of the time but remember that leaving it to the last minute is risky, as all tickets may be sold.
  4. Another piece of transferrable advice is to avoid holidays if possible as we all know the more the demand the higher the price.
  5. Clear those cookies- not possible on an app but you can always keep checking when you’ve logged out. If the company KNOWS you need to go then the price will increase. You can always use the notification option previously mentioned.
  6. Making several accounts can also lead to great reward as new users often get red packets or introductory offer.
  7. If you are used to the app already scan through the list, often choosing indirect flight can give you half the price but you’ll have to deal with sitting in the plane for a bit longer or running to get that change.

We hope that you’ll find this useful next time you’re looking to travel. If you have any questions, or would like to suggest your favorite travel app, send us an email at

One thought on “How to Use Qunar -Buying Tickets Like a Local

  1. Hello! I stumbled across your article and it’s very helpful, look forward to reading more about your city! Will be visiting Xi’an in the upcoming National Holiday. I wonder if you know of any way foreigners can buy tickets for attractions like the Terracotta Army. I’ve tried Ctrip and Qunar and they both only have options for Chinese ID cards. I’m worried ticket daily limits will be reached if we buy tickets onsite on the day. Can you contact me on wechat: NishaV

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